Will any Dallas Cowboys player receive the coveted 99 Madden grade?

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Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

88. <strong>Too Low</strong>. RB. Dallas Cowboys. EZEKIEL ELLIOTT

Ezekiel Elliott has not performed as well as he did earlier in his career yet I still believe he should be rated higher than Madden had him last year. Although he shouldn’t be a 99 rated player, he is behind some running backs that are clearly inferior to him.

Zeke is tied with Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon as the ninth and tenth rated running back with an overall grade of 88. Mixon was coming off of back-to-back 1,100 yard rushing seasons but finished with only 428 rush yards in 2020 as injuries kept Mixon out of ten games this season.

New York Giants runner Saquon Barkley entered the 2020 season ranked a point higher than Zeke even though Zeke outrushed him by 354 yards. As much hype as Barkley gets for being an elite pass-catching back, he only gained 18 more receiving yards than Zeke on two fewer catches. Elliott also had twice as many rushing touchdowns than Barkley while both had the exact same receiving touchdowns yet Madden felt Barkley was the better running back.

I stopped comparing Zeke to those running backs around him at the bottom of the top ten and jumped the list. Madden allows you to compare three players so that is exactly what I did with Elliott and the top two rated running backs.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb were the top two rated running backs as McCaffrey had a 99 spot but was downgraded to 98 while Chubb came in with a 96 rating.

Of the fifty-three rated game categories, Madden had McCaffrey leading 26 categories while Zeke came in with 20 categories led. Chubb came in third only leading in 12 categories. The total numbers are off as players with the same grade both get the win. Chubb and McCaffrey are rated as better pass blockers than Zeke.

I looked at some of the top categories and was further confused by what I saw. I am not aware of teams or players running official 40-yard dashes after they have been drafted so the speed category might need to be examined.

McCaffrey ran a 4.49 forty-yard dash at the NFL combine while Chubb ran a 4.52. Ezekiel Elliott ran a 4.47 forty besting both top-rated players yet both McCaffrey and Chubb have a higher speed rating than Zeke. Chubb and McCaffrey have a 92 rating while Zeke is at 90.

I used the NFL’s Next Gen stats and found out that San Francisco 49ers running back had the two fastest runs in the entire NFL in 2020 yet his speed is rated as a 97. The previous year was worse as Matt Breida had the fastest game time run and he has a speed rating of 95. This threw out my theory that the folks at EA use data produced by the NFL to adjust ratings but it doesn’t seem like they did in this case.

Zeke played in 15 games last season which is exactly the same amount of games Chubb and McCaffrey played in combined last season.

Zeke failed to reach 1,000 rush yards for the first time in a full season without suspension yet his offensive line was decimated to the point where his 979 rushing yards are actually pretty impressive. I understand why McCaffrey is rated higher and I’m sure Titans running back Derrick Henry will make a jump but Zeke should not be close to falling out of the top ten running backs.